India’s grand plan to reduce carbon emissions through fuel efficiency norms for vehicles has been put on hold following a last-minute change in the law ministry’s stand.
Days before the Bureau of Energy Efficiency was to notify labelling norms for fuel efficiency under the Energy Conservation (EC) Act, the ministry, in a complete reversal of its stand, said the norms can be issued under the Motor Vehicles Act instead of the EC Act.
The Bureau and the road transport ministry have been fighting a turf war ever since India envisaged fuel efficiency standards for vehicles in 2008. The Bureau insists energy efficiency norms can be issued only under the EC Act while the road transport ministry says this doesn’t apply to vehicles, since the Motor Vehicles Act covers all aspects of vehicle management.
The prime minister’s office (PMO) settled the dispute in early 2009, on the basis of the law ministry’s opinion that the Bureau should issue the norms as penal provisions under the EC Act, which is stricter than the Motor Vehicles Act.
The PMO had asked the Bureau to draw up five-star fuel efficiency labelling for vehicles, to be implemented by the road transport ministry. In February 2010, the Bureau came up with the norms for passenger cars. Higher star rating meant a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
In the meantime, the road transport ministry revived the dispute, asking the law ministry if the standards can be issued under the Motor Vehicle Act.
On March 9, the law ministry said: “The Motor Vehicles Act is comprehensive and also, internationally, transport ministry does fuel labelling... The act can be amended to include fuel efficiency.”
Joint secretary in the road transport ministry, S.K. Dash, then wrote to the PMO, asking it to re-consider its decision
The PMO has now asked the power ministry, which controls the Bureau, for its views.
“With the new development we cannot say when fuel efficiency standards will be finalised,” a Bureau official said.